The numbers do not lie — the Miami Heat’s starting five with Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas was outscored by 39 points in the first round. By the 76ers starting five.
Every game — including Game 5 — the Heat would fall behind quickly, but in four of the games the Heat’s substitutes stabilized them, got them back in it (in Game 5 the Heat were down 11 inside of five minutes but a 14-0 run had the Heat ahead after the end of the first quarter). Four times the Heat went on to win.
Do that against the Celtics and it will cost the Heat games. And maybe the series.
The lineup with Miami’s big three with Ilgauskas and Bibby had an offensive rating of 89.9 (points per 100 possessions) and a defensive rating of 125.2 (via NBA statscube). That lineup would average 79 points per 48 minutes shooting 39.4 percent.
Swap in Chalmers and Anthony and the offensive rating becomes 128 (points per 100 possessions) and the defensive rating 86. This lineup would score 108.8 points per 48 minutes shooing 54.2 percent.
The matchups will be different with the Celtics, particularly with Jermaine and maybe Shaquille O’Neal Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will be tempted to go with the size of Big Z rather than the 6’9” Anthony in the middle. And Big Z did provide some offense.
But Spoelstra knows how much better his team is playing when Bibby and Ilgauskas sit — there’s a reason he took them out after 4:27 in Game 5 Wednesday and they never got back on the court.
He needs to make a change with the starters. Falling 10 points back of the Celtics is a much harder hole to climb out of than it is against Philly.
The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.
He missed more than five weeks.
Maybe he should have sat even longer.
Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:
Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.
Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.
Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.
There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.
What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?
The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.
The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.
Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.
With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.
He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.
The Lakers have had a rough season.
Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.
The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.
The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.
Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.
He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.
Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.